Gupta’s chequered past at AIIMS

More than one annual confidential report termed him “not worth retaining”.

Written by Abantika Ghosh | New Delhi | Updated: July 4, 2014 1:03 am
Sunanda Pushkar was found dead in a starred hotel in south Delhi on the night of January 17. Sunanda Pushkar was found dead in a starred hotel in south Delhi on the night of January 17.

Dr Sudhir Gupta may have stirred a hornet’s nest with his allegations of “pressure” to doctor Sunanda Pushkar’s autopsy report, but his own past at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences is chequered. His annual confidential reports (ACRs) tell the story of a man whose assessment by his seniors swings between “very poor” and “outstanding” in the same year and over the years questions have been raised about his integrity.

More than one annual confidential report termed him “not worth retaining”. However, when he became eligible for promotion to the post of professor, an ACR signed by the then head of the department of forensic medicine Dr T D Dogra was overruled by director Dr R C Deka and a fresh ACR prepared after Dr Dogra demitted office. This ensured that Dr Gupta had the two requisite “outstanding” ratings in his ACR that would enable him to be promoted.

Allegations of plagiarism have dogged him since 2004. As far back as in 1996, when Dr Gupta was a senior demonstrator in the department he now heads, three of his seniors Dr R K Sharma, Dr D N Bhardwaj and Dr O P Murty — the man with whom he is now vying for the post of head of the department of forensic medicine — wrote to the then AIIMS director about his “doubtful integrity”. In 2010 when AIIMS was preparing a list of officers with “doubtful integrity”, Dr Gupta’s name was submitted by head of the department Dr T D Dogra.

His ACR for 2010-11 rated as “very poor” his professional competence, research, teaching and administrative abilities. Then head of the department of forensic medicine Dr Dogra wrote: “He is highly suspicious, quarrelsome, disobedient, ready to threaten, undisciplined (sic), blieve (sic) in speaking lies, untrustworthy, he is a person of doubtful integrity… he openly claims support of director office and AIIMS administration.” He assessed that Dr Gupta is “not worth retaining in the present position”. Director Dr R C Deka overruled Dr Dogra and wrote he is biased so his comments may be ignored. “He is very good”, he wrote on November 1, 2013.

Subsequently, a fresh ACR was prepared — Dr Gupta had not filled in his portions in the earlier one but he did so in the new one that was backdated.

Dr D N Bharadwaj, who had by then become head of the department, rated his abilities as “very good” and the overall assessment was outstanding. “Dr S K Gupta has thorough knowledge of subject and has good potential to be future leader in speciality,” Dr Bharadwaj wrote on August 8, 2012. In August 2013, Dr Gupta became the head of the department.

In 2004 the ethics committee of Medical Council of India unanimously recommended that Dr Gupta’s name be erased from the medical register for a year over allegations of plagiarism. The MCI board subsequently overruled it on grounds of jurisdiction and referred the matter to the Delhi Medical Council with which he is registered. DMC found itself unable to adjudicate as the complainant did not respond. The matter was disposed of in 2009. Five years later, locked in a legal battle over headship of the department, Dr Gupta on June 15 this year lodged a complaint with the British Medical Council against Dr Guy Norfolk, the complainant, for filing a false case against him.

Dr Gupta says his past is being dug up to defame him in order to divert attention from the Pushkar case. “My character is not an issue here, it is about what happened to Sunanda Pushkar. I am fighting for the truth yet AIIMS is after me, treating me like a stepson. My colleagues are jealous because I became HoD at a young age. Frivolous complaints against me have been engineered by my own teacher. I met Dr Norfolk at a seminar and he told me he has never complained but would not give it in writing for fear of litigation. I could have gone as the head of AIIMS Patna but chose not to go because I wanted to do something good in this department.”

Asked why he chose to make the accusations now instead of earlier when Pushkar died, he said: “I am giving the final report now. I did not succumb to pressure, I did not change the report. I did not mention it then because handling high profile cases like I do there are always pressures. How many people do I complain about? The administration wants a different autopsy report but I will not compromise my work ethics.”

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  1. I
    Indus
    Jul 4, 2014 at 2:20 am
    We all know for aiding whom the articles have been written! Abantika !! Just when onward the ACRs has been written impartially? We in the government service know well unless you are in the good books of your superior you will not get a good ACR. I know of offficers who earned am "excellent " ACR by giving tuition to his boss's children freely and by doing the house hold cores to the boss's wife. In which world you are living
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      Sudhir
      Jul 4, 2014 at 1:31 pm
      If u stand-up against congress crime & corruption. In India, paid media will shows criminals/ Terrorist as National Hero’s & criminal & Corrupt congress politiciansas Saints.
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        TIHARwale
        Jul 4, 2014 at 8:37 am
        The news report says Dr.Gupta did not submit self apprisal but subsequently he had done if this is correct then this itself is a problamatic area. It is proved time and again efficiency suffers when one does job with a disturbed mind. Nothing fruitful is going to come out of the enquiry. The son in a law referred is is one who is involved in the broadcasting rights of IPL
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          Cool Drango
          Jul 4, 2014 at 5:45 am
          Instead of going into his past why not just focus on his report? Check whether there is any truth in it.
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            Pais Hilary
            Jul 5, 2014 at 4:20 am
            Where is the problem? He says there was pressure but he did not budge. Good.
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              Pradeep Kapoor
              Jul 4, 2014 at 1:00 pm
              I sincerely hope that nobody from NDA is responsible for the current statements of Dr Gupta.
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                Shiva
                Jul 4, 2014 at 1:24 pm
                It is shame that there are interference and politicizing in every field in India. How can an innocent and ordinary people get fair justice in India?
                Reply
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                  Shyamal Ganguly
                  Jul 4, 2014 at 12:43 pm
                  Timing of each event is controlled by the whollistic cirstances. There is a good chance that she was murdered and CONGIS wanted to suppress info.
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                    sunil
                    Jul 4, 2014 at 4:06 am
                    Lot of skeletons will emerge if doctor's past in other insutions is explored.
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                      Curious onlooker
                      Jul 4, 2014 at 1:30 am
                      Why did the doctor wait this long before he decided to make a clean breast of himself? Fear of retaliation especially when every one knew UPA's chances of forming the next government were doomed. Or did some one prod him to muddy the water again? Looks very much like a case of political score settling. That is the season.
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                        trishanku
                        Jul 4, 2014 at 6:47 am
                        Only shows the murky affairs of AIIMS and its extreme politicization. No wonder, eminent senior doctors have left AIIMS in large numbers over last decade.
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                          vasant
                          Jul 4, 2014 at 1:20 pm
                          Any common man with little commonsense can't believe that the death of Sunanada was NATURAL.
                          Reply
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